So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:53–58, NASB
In January 1986 God intervened in my life with eternal results. He called me to Himself. He regenerated me. He justified me. He sanctified me. He adopted me. He changed me forever. However, I was a baby Christian. I had only a vague concept of what God had done on my behalf. I really did not have a clear understanding of this thing we call Christianity. All I knew was that before that wonderful day I did not care too much for church. My concept of the proper Christian life was one of being religious, but that religion had to meet certain criteria. However, after God saved me, my concept changed radically. I suddenly found that I loved God and His people. I loved hearing Bible centered sermons and being in Bible study classes. I had a deep desire to know God’s will that I may obey Him in all things. However, that earlier concept of the proper Christian life was still with me, that is, that one’s religiosity was what determined one’s right standing before God.
Christian News Network reports:
[The] American Baptist College is defending its invitation to an openly lesbian United Church of Christ minister, asserting that Christians are making an “idol” of the Bible.
“It’s sad that people use religion and idolatry of the Bible to demoralize same-gender-loving people,” American Baptist College President Forrest Harris told The Tennessean on Wednesday.
According to Christian Headlines:
Outspoken Christian leader Franklin Graham wrote a Facebook post this week that referenced homosexual persecution and said the LGBT community needs to repent. Charisma News reports that Graham mentioned a recent act of ISIS brutality in which a gay man was thrown off a rooftop and then stoned to death.
Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
Isaiah 52:13–15, NASB
In his fine book Escape from Reason, Francis Schaeffer analyzed 20th Century philosophy, science, art, and popular culture to get to the “cause,” if you will, of the decline of reason, which was and is still shaping our society. Modern thought in our time, it seems, has been diverted from an eternal, heavenly focus to one that is entirely geared to the temporal. Part of his thesis is that the advent of humanistic philosophy and reason began with Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). He contends that, prior to Aquinas, the heavenly things were all-important, but since his teaching and discussion of “nature and grace,” the focus of human thought has made the temporal all–important, with the heavenly becoming only an abstract “unreality.”
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. Matthew 28:1–4, NASB
Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! According to Paul in his first epistle to the church in Corinth, the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the lynchpin of our faith.
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 1 Corinthians 15:13–14, NASB
If the resurrection of Christ is not true then Christianity is based on a myth and our faith is in vain. Therefore, we must hold tightly to the fact that our Lord is Risen. On the morning of our Lord’s resurrection there were several people who witnessed different aspects of it. Their responses to it varied drastically.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings:with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isaiah 6:1–3, ESV
In the English translations of the Old Testament when we encounter the word “Lord” we are actually reading the Hebrew word Adhōnāy. On the other hand, when we read the word “LORD,” it is is completely different Hebrew word, Yehōwāh. Adhōnāy is actually a title for God meaning “sovereign one.” Yehōwāh is the sacred name of God. It was the name He used to reveal Himself to Moses at the burning bush. Yehōwāh is the unspeakable name, the holy name of God. The Hebrew scribes wrote it as YHWH. Therefore, it is referred to as the sacred tetragrammaton, the unspeakable four letters. Adhōnāy is the plural noun form of Ādhōn, which, when used in reference to God, means Lord. However, Adhōnāy is plural but singular in meaning. This speaks of the Holy Trinity, i.e. one God in three persons.
Christian News Network shares this touching story:
Photographs of a baby boy that was born at 19 weeks have been making an impact around the world for life as they demonstrate to viewers the humanity and perfection of the unborn child.
“I shared these photos so my friends and family could see my perfect child,” Lexi Fretz of Greencastle, Pa. wrote in a blog post. “I never, ever could have imagined that it would spread across the world like this.”
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1–4, NASB
The Church in the early part of the 21st century is very sick. This sickness has not happened all at once. Instead, it is the result of centuries of compromise after compromise on the part of Christian leaders and their followers to adapt the Gospel and Church doctrines to conform to what men want. As a result, the Church has lost its savor. It is no longer salty. The countries in Europe where the Reformers restored the Gospel at the cost of untold numbers of martyrs would not now be considered Christian at all.
In the United States, the visible Church still has some influence in politics and society, but is that what the Church is supposed to be about? The segment of the American Church that would consider itself evangelical has become so doctrinally shallow that most of the members as well as their leadership have no idea what they really believe. If they were confronted with the Arminianism/semi-Pelagianism vs. Calvinism debate, they would be clueless about what each side believes and does not believe. In fact, they are so spiritually shallow, they don’t understand why it is important to know what you believe and why you believe it.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1 Corinthians 2:3–7, NASB
When we observe those “Christian leaders” espousing the social activism of new evangelicalism, which is rooted in semi-Pelagianism and Humanism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new version of Christianity? I suppose it is that they see that what they are seeking to replace has “failed” because so many young people want nothing to do with it. Therefore, they desire to create a new Christianity that uses the marketing techniques of the world and entertainment to entice people to be part of a church that is new and exciting. Gone is any call to repent of sins. Sin is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Instead of calling on God for mercy and seeking the Son for salvation from the Father’s coming judgment, they are told to come to Jesus and let Him into their lives so He can make their life better.
What are the leaders of this movement missing? What is wrong with what they are doing? It is not wrong to want to reach the lost with the Gospel. No, we should be doing that, but it is very wrong to make every Sunday morning into a show that only appeals to the flesh. Instead of worshipping our Lord God in reverential fear, they have a rock concert. The leaders of this movement may indeed create large churches and international ministries by doing what they do, but is it right?
Dr. Peter Jones, who is Director of truthXchange and Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary, examines former megachurch pastor and emergent guru Rob Bell’s misleading defense of same-sex marriage. For one thing, Bell picks and chooses between Bible texts that seemingly agree with him, and those that do not. Jones says “he dismisses Paul’s teaching as mere letters from 2000 years ago that no longer apply, and then chooses a 3500 years-old text with which he agrees, namely Genesis 2:18.” Jones goes on to say that, “In a sentimentalizing interpretation of this foundational text, Bell launches into an emotive appeal for companionship, perfectly suited to his Oprah-taught audience.”
According to News Max, Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams said at a news conference, “This is an historic day. People from diverse backgrounds have come together to craft what no one thought was possible.”
News Max writes:
State Sen. Stuart Adams, a Republican who led negotiations on the proposal, said at the news conference that they’ve found a way to respect the rights of some while not infringing on the rights of others.
“If Utah can do this, my opinion, it can be done anywhere else in the nation.”
Once again Hollywood is pushing the envelope. Christian News Network reports that “The Fosters” is generating controversy after two male teens kissed each other on screen. This was the first time same-sex teens kissed on American television. That this would happen is not surprising as the show’s creators are homosexuals and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez is the producer.
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,
“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth,
The love of your betrothals,
Your following after Me in the wilderness,
Through a land not sown.
Jeremiah 2:1–2, NASB
As I think back on that startling, abrupt, life-changing time immediately following God graciously bringing me into knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, justifying me, and placing me on that narrow road of sanctification, I remember my deep devotion to all things related to my faith. Some of those things were obviously part of the trappings of religiosity but, primarily, I remember not being able to get enough of God’s Word, and that is still the case. He has since that time chiseled and burned away much of the dross and worthless stuff from me that hindered me in my pilgrimage. It should be no surprise though that much of what was taken away were things, ministries, and people that I clung to desperately thinking they were vital parts of what made up “my walk.” In my case, my “first love,” which at times had diminished as I served religious things and worked at my religion with much vigor, has actually grown much deeper as the focus has been removed from all that to simply loving and obeying my Lord.
Campus Reform is reporting a puzzling story out of Chicopee, Mass. Evidently, pro-abortion congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) has been invited to speak at Elms College’s 84th annual commencement ceremony. What’s puzzling is that Elms is a Roman Catholic college. In a statement Elms announced their reason for inviting Lewis:
Lewis’ personal and political focus on civil rights fits perfectly with Elms’ commitment to social justice. As commencement speaker, he will deliver a humbling and inspiring message for the Class of 2015 to carry into the world.
Elms made no mention of the fact that during Lewis’ 29 years as a U.S. Congressman, he has been fiercely pro-abortion and has earned a 100 percent approval rating from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Over at Patheos, Warren Throckmorton has brought our attention to Dr. Ben Carson’s apology for saying that being gay is a choice. In his apology, which you will find on his Facebook page, Dr. Carson pointed out that:
I’m a doctor trained in multiple fields of medicine, who was blessed to work at perhaps the finest institution of medical knowledge in the world. Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality. We do know, however, that we are always born male and female. And I know that we are all made in God’s image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Isaiah 64:6, NASB
Since the inception of this ministry, I have been approached by many concerned people who are convinced that they have sinned one too many times and have forfeited their salvation. They were being continually antagonized about their sin by a voice within. In every case, after some careful questioning, I learned that each of them have been part of a church or denomination whose doctrine of justification is a blend of grace and law, faith and works. Also, as I attempted to explain that justification is by faith alone according to the grace of God, each of them responded in disbelief and that usually ended the conversation. When I tried to share with them that the unregenerate are not troubled by their sin this way it fell on deaf ears. This has always been one of the most heartbreaking aspects of ministering like this. It has left me, at times, very frustrated and angry at those false teachers, those wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, whose false doctrines have left their followers spiritually confused, hurt, and unable to grasp the truth.
“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
‘Who will bring me down to earth?’
Obadiah 1:3, NASB
Adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled Self-Deceived.
Human pride is incredibly deceitful. It can so deceive its host that he or she may well believe they are the truly humble. It is true of all proud people, for pride is self-deceit. Some reading this may be proud. In fact, it is those who believe they have no pride who are most likely the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3–4, ESV
We have spent a large amount of time lately looking at forms of “Christianity” that are really forms of apostasy or heresy. We have also compared their false beliefs with those of other aberrant forms of our faith, such as the Emergent movement and “liberal Christianity.” There are others to be sure, but what has been amazing is how they all do the same thing. They elevate man and demote God. They teach salvation by works instead of by grace through faith as a gift from God.
In part 1 of this series, CRN contributor Marsha West asked the following questions: Is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it? Should a Christian (a) make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? (b) avoid making a decision until he or she has a “peace about it”? (c) wait for a “sign” from God? (d) consult a psychic or a Ouija board to seek God’s guidance? In part 2 Marsha answers these questions.
There are concerns about the path popular seeker-friendly pastor Andy Stanley is taking. Stand Up For The Truth writes:
When we compare some of Andy Stanley’s teachings lately to Scripture, we’re seeing some discrepancies. We encourage you to do the comparative work for yourself (as the Bereans did), listening carefully to what all teachers teach.
Christian Headlines reports that terrorist group ISIS has purportedly set standards for themselves. By releasing 19 people they kidnapped, they can get credibility “by showing that they follow rules and that they have some kind of transparent process that follows their particular implementation of Sharia law.”
According to the Christian News Network, in less than a year after astronomers announced that they had proof of the universe beginnings, those same astronomers have retracted their claims. We now learn that the findings were not proof of the Big Bang after all and that the astronomers’ conclusions were incorrect.